US fighters dropped almost 80,000 pounds of bombs on Qanus Island, which is shown in the above screenshot from a Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve Twitter video about the Sept. 10, 2019, strikes. Twitter video screenshot via OIR Spokesman Col. Myles Caggins.
US F-35s and F-15Es on Sept. 10 dropped nearly 80,000 pounds of bombs on an island in an Iraqi river that was “infested” with Islamic State group fighters, the US-led coalition announced.
The coalition posted a video of the strike the same day that combined an aerial surveillance feed and video from Iraqi fighters on the ground. The video showed massive explosions on the Qanus Island in the Salah ad Din Province.
The island on the Tigris River was a safe haven and a “major transit hub” for IS fighters moving from Syria into Mosul, Makhmour, and the Kirkuk region, according to a statement from Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
The strikes supported the 2nd Iraqi Special Operations Forces Battalion, who aim to clear remaining IS forces from the region.
“We’re denying Daesh the ability to hide on Qanus Island,” said Maj. Gen. Eric Hill, the commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, using another name for the group. “We’re setting the conditions for our partner forces to continue bringing stability to the region.”
The large-scale strike shows the size of lingering IS forces in the region. A Defense Department Inspector General report stated last month that there are between 14,000 and 18,000 IS followers who are creating “resurgent cells” in Iraq and Syria and carrying out operations in the area.
Air Forces Central Command, in statistics released Sept. 9, reported that US and coalition aircraft conducted 218 strikes in Iraq and Syria in August, more than double that of July. So far this year, the coalition has dropped 4,114 weapons in the air war against the IS. While the pace is increasing, it remains below that of previous years. For example, US aircraft conducted 8,713 strikes in 2018, a dramatic dropoff from the 39,577 strikes in 2017.
US aircraft in Afghanistan also ramped up strikes in August with 783 weapons drops, compared to 613 in July. That brings the 2019 total to 4,483 strikes so far.